Brinda delves into the less-than-flat playing field with greater emotional intelligence than most recent academic studies. Her fifteen years in the corporate sector or her MA in Communication from Stanford could be contributing factors. Her sharp stories underline the extraordinariness of ordinary lives caught up in the maelstrom of globalisation. Demystifying the shadows of Bangalore’s BPO phenomenon, she illuminates with a final, defining twist akin to Rubik’s cube resolved
A quick and gripping read, this is a well-rounded book with a scope so wide that it leaves predecessors like One Night @ The Call Centre trailing behind. Narayan’s characters are penned with a disarming candour and her prose peppered with wry humour. Her sympathetic yet gritty gaze proffers a good understanding of her characters. Whether it’s the more cosmopolitan agents’ disdain of the “vernacs”, the US-returned CEO’s aspirations of big business in India Shining, the van-driver’s resigned disgruntlement (he observes, “The Biggest Big Boss travelled in a Mercedes Benz with a white uniformed chauffeur who acted in the basement like he belonged to a superior caste”), or the slum-dwelling toilet-cleaner’s ordinary-yet-extraordinary daily issues (she lives in a toilet-less hut and manages to bathe once a week with great difficulty — a chapter to look out for), Narayan’s characters are believable and intriguing. Bangalore Calling is a spirited effort well worth a read.
The Telegraph, Calcutta.
In its form, Bangalore Calling is something between a short story collection and a novel, a quality which works in its favour. Narayan sets the stories in and around one specific company, which lets her develop a rich, textured world that wouldn’t perhaps have fit into a single short story. But despite this novelistic wealth of detail, the pieces are brisk, gripping reads, and many end without tying up knots too neatly, preferring rather to leave the reader spinning ahead with the narrative.
The author deftly weaves through the social downsize of outsourcing. She looks critically at the displacement of vernacular languages; the premium attached to American accents and of course the invariable erosion of cultures that happens subtly over time. Each character in this book hence reflects the enormity of these changes…My favourite story is the one about Bitty who has come out of a modest middle class home; her father is an Ayurvedic doctor and mothers a housewife. Her interaction with the most happening trainer of Callus changes her life. She gets caught up in the merry-go-round of low- waist jeans, expensive perfumes, jewellery and malls. When the ride ends, she ends up with a crushing credit card bills. Her parent’s attempt to to pay off her debt enrages her and she reaches that level of her life where she starts believing that her own parents are her biggest enemy and contemplates moving out. Will she be able to use her newly-acquired skills to survive life in the fast changing s of life? Read this book for the sheer pleasure of a burning topic of debate panning out into stories of human struggles and weaknesses. This book is a must-read.
The call centre industry has been in India for more than a decade, but it has taken us this long to fathom a decent book out of our experience. Brinda S. Narayan has done just that with an interlinked short story collection called Bangalore Calling. This is a book about how the new industry, born out of a need for the Western world to cut costs and offshore work to India, has externally affected the Indian landscape and internally affected the psyche of the Indian people.
Bangalore Calling is skilfully written and Narayan keeps the plot moving even as she illuminates the internal lives of characters. Minor incidents or an oddity from one story often come to the fore or are understood in a different light in another story, and this gives the book an organic sense of wholeness.
This is a piece of faked USofA in India, and sure one of the fifteen stories within would be a story one could relate with. Crisply written, this is a book to be read and enjoyed, and one which leaves you with something to mull on, given that the call centre culture is spawning a generation which is swiftly coming adrift from Indian cultural moorings and eagerly adapting US culture.
The book is a demonstration of the popular adage that everything that shines is not a diamond. It candidly tells the effects of culture change and that what goes around comes back every time. The poignant depiction of the characters and the shockingly real stories make this book a welcome change from those that are simply blatant criticism of the call center encroach. It shows that with the right attitude one can turn everything to his advantage. Every phenomenon is registered and reacted to by the people in different ways. For some it is good and for some not so much. Hence the books simply provides us with a great study and it is up to the reader to judge its intent. A really good read in my opinion.
If One Night in a Call Centre was a McDonald’s burger, then Bangalore Calling was a wedding feast by the best caterer in town. Through a number of very different characters it takes us into different homes and minds and through them gives a good look at different Indian cultures and lifestyles and how each of the people representing it has reacted to the American influence and aspirations introduced by their association with the call centre. Bangalore Calling is very well written and the story compelling.
Bangalore Calling has America’s Uncle Sam pointing a finger at you on the cover. But don’t be fooled, the book has been hailed as a deeply researched and incisive novel about call centres in India.
Indulge, The New Indian Express
Brinda S Narayan’s debut novel takes a sensitive, insightful look into the schizophrenic world of Bengaluru BPOs. A staunch love for all things Indian coexists with stereoptypes about Indian quirks.
Marie Claire India, May 2011
After a long time I have read a book from an Indian author which delves into issues beyond – love life, BFFs, college issues etc. Bangalore Calling is a mature book which takes us through different socio economic strata’s. The author gives us a good view of people inside a call center & she does it in a way that you never get the “I-have-read-it” vibes…A worthy book, delving into contemporary corporate culture & issues. If you have worked in a call center you will find many things to relate with & people like me who have not worked in a call center will very easily relate to the corporate practices!!! I would say that it is one of the good books coming out from the shelf of Contemporary Indian Authors, a polished work.
The [BPO] industry’s impact on the country’s social and cultural fabric has caught the imagination of writers and filmmakers, alike. Brinda S Narayan’s debut novel, “Bangalore Calling,” is one such. The novel…realistically explores life in a call centre. The book traces the lives of 15 individuals working in Callus, a fictional call centre. Brinda has sketched diverse characters belonging to different backgrounds. And not one of them have it easy, not even the CEO.
-Dial R for Reality, Hindu Metro Plus.
In this lively and deeply telling collection, the author transports us into an Alice in Wonderland Bangalore call centre training session in which students learn broad–“a” American English, imagine American cities and don take-home American names. They create an offshore piece of America. Bangalore Calling is more than a book; it is a powerful wake-up call to look sharp at the cultural core of global capitalism.
-Arlie Hochschild, Professor Emeritus at U.C.Berkeley, author ofThe Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling and co-editor of Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy
‘Entertaining and humane, Bangalore Calling is very much a book of our times. It is both a moving introduction to the strange world of the Bangalore call centre, and a reminder of the human and cultural costs of globalization.’
–Sam Miller, author of Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity and former BBC correspondent in India
Bangalore Calling is a book that must be read by all with perceptions about the call centres in our country and how they function. The author’s prose is crisp and to the point. She sure does not run in circles. Her plot is tight and thankfully it does not get dramatic at any point. The book is well-written for sure. It will sure help clear minds and introduce new perspectives. A great read for one.
All the story snippets are excellent. The writing is top-notch, and I love the mature, thoughtful approach that Brinda Narayan has taken. I don’t know much about call centers, but the author seems to have done enough research to give the story setting a very authentic feel. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in life in Bangalore, and the booming call center industry.
Linking 15 stories together, Brinda makes you sit up and take notice. The stories are about employees — agent, manager and cab driver — and their hopes, the demands and the need to make sense of everything at the same time. For a young girl from a slum, working inside a swank glass complex is stuff that dreams are made of. That she’s a toilet cleaner is beside the point. For a van driver, switching from devotional songs to Jimi Hendrix inside the vehicle is unthinkable, but does he have a choice? The book explores the impact of outsourcing on people — be it superficial like a change in the accent and language or a deeper one such as the erosion of human and cultural values. Realistic, this slice-of-life tale is interesting.
-The Hindu, Metroplus, Chennai.